(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Hunchback of Notre Dame II)
Doug (vo; groans): Oh, this hurts. Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Of all the films that shouldn't have a sequel, this is one of them. And out of all the films that people were telling me to beware of the most when doing these sequels, it was Hunchback of Notre Dame II. The sad thing about it, though, is, even though it is terrible, it's terrible for different reasons than I thought it was gonna be terrible. I mean, don't get me wrong. The story is shit.
Doug (vo): A circus comes into town, and an evildoer wants to steal this super-ritzy bell that just happens to be in Notre Dame. It looks like any ordinary bell, but on the inside, it's gorgeous and beautiful and full of treasures. Get it? Get it?! One of the circus performers is named Madellaine, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. She's working with the evil villain, played by Michael McKean, to be romantically interested with Quasimodo to lure him away from the bell so he can steal it. Of course, a real-life romance blooms between them, but..."liar revealed". It's stolen before she can confess what's really going on. And, of course, she has a tragic backstory that doesn't really make sense. She was a thief, and he's the only one that could look after her, yet really, she could move anywhere and nobody would know about it. There's a million other ways around this. But if that seems too heavy and dramatic for you, it's okay. Haley Joel Osment plays the child of Phoebus and Esmeralda.
Doug (vo): And this introduces us to one of the biggest problems of the movie: Taking mostly Academy Award-nominated actors and just having them say stupid shit. It's so hard seeing so many great actors just given a generic bullshit script to work with. And that really is the biggest problem. The script is awful. From the initial setup, you know everything that's gonna happen, what every character is gonna do, when they're gonna do it. It's just ridiculous. And why do we need an "appearances can be deceiving" story when the first one was already an "appearances can be deceiving" story?
(Scenes mostly showing the film's animation are shown)
Doug (vo): But let's get to the toughest thing to talk about for me, and that's the animation. This was done by TMS*, the people behind Akira, Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, some of the greatest animation I've ever seen, Top 5 of all time in my book. But I'm not gonna lie, they just don't seem like the right choice here. Not that they can't emulate the Disney style, I mean, they look like the characters fine. It's just that...this looks more like a Disney Afternoon movie. And what I mean by that is, TMS doesn't traditionally use a lot of CGI. Disney does. TMS doesn't usually use colored lines. Disney does. TMS' big strength is not in heartfelt emotion, but more aggressive emotion. Akira is aggressive, Batman is aggressive. Disney can be aggressive, but it's no more for the sentimental side. For example, when a character needs to be still, TMS has them almost completely still. Every once in a while, maybe a little movement. With Disney, they're always somehow moving. They have, like, a million inbetweeners, so when you're holding on a face, it still looks like there's some movement there. TMS doesn't function that way. It's supposed to be a little rougher. So, the more tough emotional scenes they do fine, like when Quasimodo finally reveals himself. She (Madellaine) steps back, she's afraid, she runs off. That they did great. But scenes when it's supposed to feel whimsical and magical and lovey-dovey, that's just not their strong point. I keep expecting to see Wakko Warner come out and bash someone with a mallet. So, the animation is still good, it's just not good for this, which is a shame, because they do sometimes pick some very bad American projects.
(The poster for Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, and an image of an American Tail direct-to-video movie, The Treasure of Manhattan Island, are shown)
- Note: The movie wasn't animated by TMS, but by Walt Disney Animation Japan, which was founded by TMS producer, Motoyoshi Tokunaga. Some animators from TMS also worked at Disney Animation Japan at the time. Doug later acknowledged his error on his Facebook page.
Doug (vo): So, is anything good? Well, Michael McKean as the villain is actually not that bad. I mean, the villain sucks, he really sucks, but the voice is legitimately kind of creepy, and I never thought I would get that out of Michael McKean. The music's nice. Oh, not the songs, they suck ass. These are some of the dumbest lyrics and most forgettable melodies. I'm talking about the instrumental score. I mean, sure, it's not the first Hunchback, but again, direct-to-DVD, we get it, it's gonna be down a bit. But for a direct-to-DVD musical score, it's pretty good. And what do you expect? It's Carl Johnson, the guy who did Gargoyles. That's a great talent.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): Outside of that, it's not much. It's so hard to see so many great actors, so many wonderful animators, so many phenomenal talents thrown in to just the laziest dumbass script. I don't even know how to fix it. What would you do with Hunchback of Notre Dame II? It just seems like the first one ended perfectly. I don't know. Maybe there's a better writer out there that could make this work, but for me, I'm wishing they gave this movie the Broadway-style ending.
(The final scene of the movie, showing Quasimodo and Madeline declaring their love for each other, is shown)